Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Training for Project Managers and Why it is Important

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

All professionals who wish to be successful, in whatever field, needs to continually aim to improve their skills. As project management is becoming recognised more and more as a profession, project managers need to ensure they have the appropriate training to develop their careers and that they keep their skills relevant and up-to-date. Continuous professional development (CPD) has always been a recognised part of the career path of those in the well-established professions such as accountancy and law and is now being incorporated into training courses for project managers.

Project managers are required to fulfil an increasingly expanding and important role as projects become more and more complex with new technologies being developed ever quicker. They are having to find new ways of coping with increasing expectations from both clients and employers.

The right type of professional training course can equip a project manager with the skills to deal with these complexities and to plan and manage their projects efficiently, deal with risks and change effectively, and to deal with people at all levels involved in a project.

The benefits of professional qualifications and credentials to the individual can be a higher salary, better career prospects and improved job satisfaction so project managers themselves should need little encouragement to attend a training course. But employers also recognise the benefits of having a well-trained and motivated employee who can deliver complex projects successfully so most major organisations offer access to a training program.

For those project managers who are self-employed or employed by small companies without a training budget (or, worse, a company without the desire to train its employees) there are plenty of good courses aimed at individuals to help them gain recognised qualifications or credentials independently.

One of the unsung benefits of a training course (or at least, traditional classroom-based learning) is learning about the successes and failures of both the trainers and the other delegates. It is highly likely that there will be someone on your course who will have experienced, or is experiencing, the same issues as you. Being able to discuss these issues with others, in the company of a professional trainer, can be a good learning experience in itself.

So why is professional training worthwhile?

Planning and Managing

 Whatever approach you might take to planning and managing a project will be determined by the type of methodology you have learnt (PMP, PRINCE2, APMP etc.). But what is certain in all projects is that a schedule will need to be planned and managed. Depending on the industry, your approach to the schedule may be that it is flexible, adaptable and likely to change frequently before the project is completed. This particularly true in software development projects. Nevertheless, every project will start with some sort of schedule, and knowledge of the key areas of good project management will enable the well-trained project manager to develop a schedule that takes into account all necessary tasks, their interdependencies, estimations, milestones and resource tracking, whilst also being capable of flexibility, where necessary.

 Dealing with Risks and Change

 Methods can be learnt to better anticipate risks or deal with those risks that could not be predicted. A training course will also promote the importance of a good change management process, how to establish one and how to ensure it is followed so that the management of change requests does not become a full-time job and change requests do not obscure the original purpose of the project.

 Dealing with People

With the help of training, a project manager can learn team-building skills, including how to develop a motivated, committed team that will work co-operatively. And how to communicate effectively with everyone involved in the project, including the stakeholders. It will give him, or her, the confidence to stick with the plan when the plan is right, change the plan when it is wrong and be prepared to make unpopular decisions when necessary.

Finally, training will ensure every project has established and documented the criteria for success, which can be used to confirm that a project has been successfully delivered.

These are just some of the reasons why project management training is important, whatever methodology your organisation is committed to: PMP, PRINCE2 or APMP. It will help every project manager to develop fully, to be recognised as a professional and to deliver complex projects successfully.

Professional Project Management and Why it is Important

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Project management has existed since buildings were first erected or ships first built but it wasn’t known by that name in mankind’s early history. It was with the development of Gantt charts in the second decade of the 20th century that the role of managing a set of inter-related tasks to deliver an end-product to a defined schedule started to emerge as the discipline we now refer to as project management.

The Gantt chart was developed by the engineer and consultant Henry Gantt (1861-1919) to visually show the scheduled and actual progress of a project, and was an innovative concept at the time. It was used on projects during the First World War and on the project to construct the Hoover Dam in the 1930s.

Today project management is an essential element of all organisations in a variety of industries: engineering, construction, defence, almost any industry you can think of will require projects to be managed at some time. There are a number of internationally recognised methodologies that can be followed to manage a project (such as PMP, PRINCE2 or APMP) each with a different approach and different terminology. But underlying these different methods is the common theme for all projects of the triple constraints of cost, time and scope, and the basics of professional project management.

So just what are the basics?

Initiation Phase: When the scope, objectives and end-product are defined, and the project is formally approved.

Planning Phase: When a set of plans is created to define the tasks necessary to complete the project, and to enable effective management of the schedule, budget, risks and change.

Execution Phase: When the tangible project deliverables are created. Other activities such as a change management process and quality analysis are also implemented during this phase.

Closing Phase: When the end-product is delivered to the client, documentation is handed over and resources are released.

And why is project management so important?

Professionally managed projects reliably and consistently ensure that projects are run efficiently and that they successfully deliver what the client expects in an acceptable timeframe and at an acceptable cost. They ensure effective communication so that the client and all stakeholders are well-informed about progress, changes and risks; that everyone involved in the project is aware of their responsibilities and that different departments work together co-operatively.
By managing risks the impact of predicted or unexpected risks occurring can be minimised by ensuring the schedule and resources are affected as little as possible. And implementing a sound change management process will ensure that the client objectives are reached.

A properly controlled project will also lead to a high-quality end-product, whether that is a feat of engineering such as a major dam or a feat of technology such as the latest microchip or the implementation of new software to improve the efficiency of core business processes.

So whatever methodology you choose to follow, a knowledge-based one such as PMP or APMP, or a process-based one such as PRINCE2, professional project managementis an essential part of the future success of every organisation from the corporate giants right down to the smallest start-up.

Project management has existed since buildings were first erected or ships first built but it wasn’t known by that name in mankind’s early history. It was with the development of Gantt charts in the second decade of the 20th century that the role of managing a set of inter-related tasks to deliver an end-product to a defined schedule started to emerge as the discipline we now refer to as project management.

The Gantt chart was developed by the engineer and consultant Henry Gantt (1861-1919) to visually show the scheduled and actual progress of a project, and was an innovative concept at the time. It was used on projects during the First World War and on the project to construct the Hoover Dam in the 1930s.

Today project management is an essential element of all organisations in a variety of industries: engineering, construction, defence, almost any industry you can think of will require projects to be managed at some time. There are a number of internationally recognised methodologies that can be followed to manage a project (such as PMP, PRINCE2 or APMP) each with a different approach and different terminology. But underlying these different methods is the common theme for all projects of the triple constraints of cost, time and scope, and the basics of professional project management.

So just what are the basics?

Initiation Phase: When the scope, objectives and end-product are defined, and the project is formally approved.

Planning Phase: When a set of plans is created to define the tasks necessary to complete the project, and to enable effective management of the schedule, budget, risks and change.

Execution Phase: When the tangible project deliverables are created. Other activities such as a change management process and quality analysis are also implemented during this phase.

Closing Phase: When the end-product is delivered to the client, documentation is handed over and resources are released.

And why is project management so important?

Professionally managed projects reliably and consistently ensure that projects are run efficiently and that they successfully deliver what the client expects in an acceptable timeframe and at an acceptable cost. They ensure effective communication so that the client and all stakeholders are well-informed about progress, changes and risks; that everyone involved in the project is aware of their responsibilities and that different departments work together co-operatively.

By managing risks the impact of predicted or unexpected risks occurring can be minimised by ensuring the schedule and resources are affected as little as possible. And implementing a sound change management process will ensure that the client objectives are reached.

A properly controlled project will also lead to a high-quality end-product, whether that is a feat of engineering such as a major dam or a feat of technology such as the latest microchip or the implementation of new software to improve the efficiency of core business processes.

So whatever methodology you choose to follow, a knowledge-based one such as PMP or APMP, or a process-based one such as PRINCE2, professional project management is an essential part of the future success of every organisation from the corporate giants right down to the smallest start-up.

Free Microsoft Access Course

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Came across an online Microsoft Access course which is being run in October.  It is a free university standard introductory database course available from Stanford University.

Stanford Computer Science courses are joining Stanford University’s “bold experiment in distributed education” by presenting  Professor Jennifer Widom’s Introduction to Databases. http://db-class.com/

The Microsoft Access course runs from October 10 through December 12, 2011. During the course, the instructor will be available online.

For and against using Microsoft Access

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

We are often asked if Access is the best solution and the answer has to be “it depends”.  Access has a bad name in some areas but that is often due to amaturish attempts to build a database.  At a superficial level Access is easy to use, but so is a gun.  The value of Access databases is best realised by having them professionally developed. A professional Microsoft Access development company will ensure you have a robust solution to meet your needs.  More importantly, they will tell you when Access is not the right solution.

There is a good sucinct article on the pros and cons of using Access at this web address.

 

 

Replacement for Powerdesk

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I have been a devout user of Powerdesk.  For those who don’t know the software it is a replacement for Windows Explorer.  It has much more functionality.  One of my favourites is the ability to split the screen.  You can see one directory in one pane and another in a second pane.  You can drop and drag files between panes for example.  You can also visually compare files in different folders.  Unfortunately Powerdesk seems to have reached the end of it’s useful life.  I have had nothing but problems in Windows 7 and from various blogs, I am not the only one.  After upgrading from version 6 to 7 to 8, it is time to look elsewhere.

While looking through a few comments, I came across a recommendation for another piece of software called Xplorer2 Lite.  It does most of what Powerdesk does and some things it doesn’t.  Thought I would download and try it.  So far, very impressed and the bonus is it is free.  There is a paid version that I will certainly be buying for only $29:95.  It has some clever features such as having a panel you can dump various files and folders then do something with them.  I could imagine collecting a number of music files to put into a single folder, or documents from various folders to copy to a single folder.  Another nice feature I found was a big collection of videos that show you how to use particular features.

Before anyone asks, I have no financial incentive to promote this product.  I just think it is a great tool, and would like to offer my support.  You can find out more at http://zabkat.com/index.htm